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Delilah's Celebrates 18 years

By Eric Hehr in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 28, 2011 9:30PM


Eighteen years ago, one of Chicago’s most authentic rock ‘n roll bars opened its doors: Delilah’s. The gritty Lincoln Park dive celebrated it’s 18th Anniversary this past Thursday with a rotating cast of its best DJ’s spinning an eclectic mix of music, and a tasting of the new 18 year old Delilah’s Bourbon (the 15 year old Rye won best Rye in the World of Whiskey Magazine).

The bar was packed with the usual blend of assorted patrons: rockabilly dudes, whiskey enthusiasts, barely legal punks, and middle-aged rockers who had probably spent one too many nights drinking at Delilah’s during its 18 years of business.

What makes Delilah’s unique to the Chicago bar scene - specifically the Lincoln Park bar scene - is the contrast between Delilah’s in print, and Delilah’s in person. In print, one could easily assume that Delilah’s is a ritzy whiskey bar with a young, hip clientele, similar to The Violet Hour in Wicker Park or The Whistler in Logan Square. This is due to the laundry list of awards Delilah has won throughout the years, including being nominated as one of the five best whiskey bars in the world by the prestigious Whiskey Magazine (“Delilah’s is one of the great whiskey bars of the world” - Whiskey Magazine). Delilah’s also boasts 400 different types of whiskey at its bar, attracting whiskey connoisseur from all over.

However, when you arrive at Delilah’s, you won’t find any supercilious sommeliers drinking from Riedel Vinum single malt glasses, wafting the scent of the whiskey into their oh-so intuitive nostrils. You also won’t find the chic speak-easy vibe of Violet Hour, nor the modish, hipster haven that is The Whistler. What you will find is a bona fide punk bar.

Yes, Delilah’s does have the whiskey list of a swanky lounge, but it has the vibe of a punk-rock dive. Just because it has been decorated with the same type of accolades many high-class joints receive does not give the atmosphere any hint of haughtiness. In fact, quite the opposite has happened over the past 18 years. Delilah’s interior has become more coarse, making its rock ‘n roll ambiance feel more genuine. It’s the type of place where it feels okay to drink during the day - the type of place The Replacements would ring up a tab they couldn’t afford to pay. But it’s also the type of place that has been called one of the best whiskey bars in the world - a place that continuously gets written up by some of the most prominent publications.

Delilah’s is the smartest kid in your math class who sneaks behind the bleachers at lunch to smoke cigarettes. It has honor-roll status, but it hangs out with the kids in detention. It’s a rough-around-the-edges bar that has already become a Chicago legend in its 18 years of business. Here’s to the future, Delilah’s!

Stay cool.

For more information on Delilah's, visit their website